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March 7, 2015

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Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinner: Asparagus and Prosciutto Omelettes

January 16, 2015

Yesterday was a pretty hectic day for us. My dad has been temporarily incapacitated due to a nasty flu bug and he's vehicle was scheduled for routine maintenance. With some 'creative scheduling', my husband and I managed to retrieve and drop dad's SUV off at the dealtership, get Mackenzie to and from school, retrieve dad's vehicle, and boh put in a full work day, after which we had about 45 minutes to have dinner before going to view 4 houses with our real estate agent. 45 minutes isn't a whole heckuvalot of time to prepare, cook, serve and eat dinner so I needed something quick and easy while still being a little health-conscious and, goes without saying, delicious. For some reason, when contemplating my options, the saying, 'faster than asparagus cooks' popped into my head.

 

The actual saying is, "Velocius quam asparagi conquantur', which translates to 'faster than asparagus is cooked',and it's a term coined by Emperor Augustus, (who, coincidentally, also created the 'Asparagus Fleet' for hauling the vegetable), that means 'quick action'. Emperor Augustus was the founder of the Roman Empire and it's first Emperor, ruling from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD. Born Gaius Octavius, he was the maternal great nephew of Julius Caeasar who's will named Octavius as his adopted son and heir. Together with Mark Anthony and Marcus Lepidius, he formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar.

 

Asparagus is native to most of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. It is pictured on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000BC and a recipe for cooking asparagus is in the oldest survivving book of recipes, Apicius's 3rd century AD De re conqunaria, Book III. Today, green asparagus is eaten and found worldwide, though the availability of imports throughout the year has made it less of a delicacy than it once was. In Europe, however, the asparagus season is a highlight on the foodie calendar, which in the UK traditionally begins on the 23rd of April and ends on 'Midsummer Day', (aka. St. John's Day), centered around the summer solstice, around June 21-25. As in continental Europe, the short growing season and demand for local produce allows asparagus to command a premium price and around here, that's usually about $4.99/lb.

 

All that having been said, we all love asparagus here in his household. I often wonder if I got my love of asparagus from my maternal grandmother, Johanna. My mother says my grandmother, being every bit a society lady and one fantastic cook, would pick up a jar of asparagus spears when she first entered the grocery store, and by the time she got to the check-out, she'd hand the cashier the empty jar. Asparagus tips were her chocolate bar, her treat. The many health benefits of asparagus make it a win/win veg and as luck would have it, I had a bundle in my refrigerator just waiting for me to do something wonderful with it.

 

Just because dinner had to be quick and easy didn't mean that it had to be unhealthy and bland so I decided to make Asparagus and Prosciutto Omelettes, with a few slices of toasted baquette and fresh fruit on the side. Opening my refrigerator to take out the asparagus and eggs, I spied a container of earthy, meaty cremini mushrooms and decided to throw them into the mix too. I snapped off the woody ends of the asparagus, sliced the mushrooms and diced a bunch of green onions. I started by sauteing the mushrooms, asparagus and green onions in a little olive oil over medium heat, and added the prosciutto in just at the end to warm through.

 

Had I had more time, I would have made the omelettes and set them aside on a plate and kept warm in the oven until I had enough made to serve everyone at the onetime. But time was of the essence so I assembled each omelette as it was cooked and using my best short order cook voice, called to each individual to come retrieve their plate. When the egg was cooked, I topped it withabout 1/4 c. grated aged Canadian white cheddar and  a couple of slices of prosciutto,  then a few aspaeagus spears, mushrooms and green onion. For a little adde 'oomph', I grated a little parmesan cheese over the top before folding the omelettes.

 

 

Sliding each omelette out of the pan after it was folded was the biggest challenge but once plated, I added three slices of toasted fresh baquette and a few orange slices.

 

Within 15 minutes of starting this quick and easy yet healthied-up and delicious dinner, we were all seated around the table savouring forkful after yummy forkful.  The saltiness of the prosciutto, creamy sharpness of the aged Canadian white cheddar, earthiness of the cremini mushrooms and fluffiness of the eggs were the perfect co-stars to the crisp, delectable star of the show, asparagus.

 

Asparagus and Prosciutto Omelettes make the perfect light meal whether you chose to make them for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or late night snack! To healthy these omelettes up even further you can use egg whites only.

 

Asparagus and Prosciutto Omelettes....easy, healthied-up, inexpensive AND delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

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